Anna Monroe of the Michigan Municipal League Helps Detroit Families at the HolidaysAnna Monroe of the Michigan Municipal League works with a young girl from Detroit during the holidays.

We live in difficult times. Stories of corruption, violence and down right evilness surround us. Trying to make sense of this state, it sometimes seems easier to close it all out, becoming numb to our pain and the pain of others. Often we pretend things will somehow get better tomorrow.

Many of us come to this holiday season with fear. What do we say to our children and our friends when there is no money for the "things" they have come to expect from us? What do we do when we cannot buy our way out of pain?

Many of us have been chasing the American Dream, trying to consume our way to our image of the "middle-class American." We have come to believe we are what we can buy. Everywhere we look, corporations encourage us to value things over people. Over the last fifty years the average American family has spent more hours working, chasing an ever-decreasing paycheck to buy things. We use these things to replace the time we no longer spend with families and friends.

The holiday season, sacred to all faiths, has become nothing more than a hyped-up consumer season and a wretched time of the year for those with no money. As more people are thrown off state support for the barest of necessities, as foreclosures increase and unemployment checks decrease, people are turning against one another. This season we have an opportunity to rethink our values and what it means to be a human being. Can we begin to look past the superficial ways we judge one another by what we wear, what kind of car we drive, or what church we go to? Can we learn to see each other in our hearts and not just with our eyes?

As a community we have a long history of transcending pain, of turning fear to hope and hope to action. We have learned to reach out to each other in service. We have known that a fragmented heart manifests a fragmented world. We have always made a way out of no way.

This holiday season is an opportunity for all of us to dedicate ourselves to building authentic relationships with our families, our friends and our communities.

We may not have money for toys and trinkets but we can wrap our arms around our children and show them how to love. We may not be able to spend money, but we can spend time. We can set aside time and talk to one other about our hopes and dreams. We can take time to reconnect across generations, sharing stories of family and friends that pass on the values and skills that have enabled us to endure for centuries.

We can ask ourselves what do we need to do to create peace in our homes, in our families and in neighborhoods? How do we decide what we need, not just what we want? How do we live more simply, to consume less and love more?

We are facing an economic and spiritual crisis that threatens our survival and our deepest humanity. But it also an opportunity. It is an opportunity to create a more just way of living. In earlier, more dangerous times we created families, villages, places of worship and respect for one another. We have that creativity within us still.

Let us all celebrate this holiday season through the eyes of a "beloved community," turning away from wanting things to valuing people. We can turn to one another and ask what kind of community we can create together.

Gloria LoweGloria Lowe is founder and CEO of We Want Green, Too!

Share Your Reflection



Bravo Gloria! Well said. Peace and love to you this Christmas. I am going to forward this because it so amazingly articulates the truth in so many ways. Unfortunately, many times it seems to take a tragedy for folks to begin to look at these things, and perhaps folks are ripe for such a conversation. I hope so. It is long overdue. Thank you.

Very nice post and let's remember that even though this technology age can be difficult it can also be a wonder if used to stay in touch with loved ones whereever they are and sites like FB or twitter etc. can be shared for very good causes, there will always be the negative and that same evil that slips in to these as well as all life situations, let them bring lessons we need to continue our chance to come together as He intended.

i was, at first, brought to tears by Gloria's words, but my tears transformed into a renewed passion to love, understand, and serve; as these are the greatest gifts I can give.

Gloria, well said, well done. I am with you.

Beautifully stated..

Thank you Gloria for reviving the spirit of this season through your words. I'm reminded of the Chanukah poem that was recently shared by Rachel Barenblat. The story of a people rededicating themselves after their temple had been destroyed hits all too close to home. Our consumer-driven way of life is crumbling all around us. Material treasures are not worthy of our worship. Let us rededicate ourselves to the things that are eternal and bring forth the light in the darkness.

Nicely stated, but I find it so disturbing how quick people everywhere have been to call Adam Lanza "evil". He was a keenly intelligent but disaffected, marginalized young adult who probably had raging hormones because he was shy, introverted, and incapable of connecting socially with others. He had lost his father through divorce, his older brother left home probably because he could no longer tolerate the environment there, and his mother -- his only lifeline -- was seriously considering moving him far away from the only place he'd ever known.

Most certainly I am not making excuses for the truly heinous act he carried out, and everything you say in your article is important and worthy, but how do we reliably identify and have the courage to reach out to and help -- with compassion -- the most emotionally and psychologically needy in our society?

You are absolutely right. We can’t find news paper of at least one day without such bad news. I think ethical values are disappearing from the society which is the biggest concern for worry. If someone lives with the mind of a child he is branded as a fool!